Barack Obama will enter the pantheon of great orators when he leaves office this month. It’s easy to forget how much optimism and genuine hope he inspired on the campaign trail. Even now, after a rancorous eight years in office, he has a profound skill to inspire with his words. What is less well remembered is was just how much of a rotten state the economy was in when he inherited the Presidency. In many ways, The financial crisis and its aftermath have been the spectre haunting his Presidency. The financial crisis was not one of Obama’s making, but he had to deal with much of the wreckage. He oversaw the recovery of the US banking sector following its post-crisis bailout; a recovery that must be the envy of his European peers, who never have really sorted out their banks. Another defining challenge was the political backdrop: the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives two years into Obama’s first administration (i.e. following the November 2010 elections) and control of the Senate in the November 2014 elections.
Fast food chain McDonald’s is selling a majority stake in its China business, valuing the enterprise at up to $2.1 billion. Chinese state-backed conglomerate Citic Ltd., Citic Capital Holdings and U.S. private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP will acquire an 80 percent holding in a deal valuing the business at as much as $2.08 billion, according to a statement Monday. Citic will own 52% of McDonald’s China operations, while Carlyle will own 28%. The new partnership plans to add more than 1,500 locations in China over the next five years. McDonald’s currently has 2,400 locations in China and 240 locations in Hong Kong. Franchising allows it to take a slice of sales while cutting operating costs.
The Malaysian government is working towards the winding up of state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) under a plan spearheaded by a high-level government unit called the Budiman committee. The state investment firm, which was established by Prime Minister Najib in 2009, is now being dissolved following allegations that its funds were used for personal reasons by the premier and his close associates, resulting in 1MDB’s debts peaking to $12 billion at one point. The assets of the state development fund will be transferred in coming months to two companies owned by the Finance Ministry. These valuable assets are two massive plots of land in Kuala Lumpur and one on Penang island.
Morgan Stanley and UBS Group are planning to raise their stakes in their securities operations in the country to the maximum 49% allowed, people with direct knowledge of the moves said, Reuters reported on Monday. China allowed foreign banks to boost share holdings in securities joint ventures to a maximum 49% in 2012 from the previous cap of a third to help modernise the country's capital markets. Foreign investments banks with securities joint ventures in China, however, have not as yet raised their stakes as most of the ventures were small or struggling to break even due to sluggish onshore deals.
Switzerland's central bank expects a 2016 full-year profit of 24 billion francs ($23.6 billion), it said on Monday; the results were largely down to foreign currency holdings built up to weaken the strong Swiss franc and its negative interest rate policy. Profit from foreign currency positions amounted to more than CHF19 billion, the SNB added in the statement while a valuation gain of CHF3.9 billion was also recorded on gold holdings. Last year’s result is set to be the second-best in the last decade and follows a record loss for 2015. The bank has built up foreign currency reserves by selling francs and buying foreign currency to weaken the franc, which it has consistently described as "significantly overvalued".
Stoxx 600 index had in the first two months of 2015 an incredible performance of about 25%, resulting the best equity index where to invest. But unluckily, in the month of April, the situation changed when the Index arrived at the 400 price level zone, a point where we had in the past, in 2000 and 2007, the beginning of two bear markets. But this time, after the third historical top, prices created a double bottom at 300. Then in 2016 we had a trending range between 300 and 350 that was broken at the beginning of December.
A Swiss insurance agency has ruled that drivers working for ride-hailing company Uber are classified as employees rather than independent contractors. The decision means that Uber is required to pay earnings-based social security contributions. Because it's an administrative decision, the next step for the dispute – one that Uber's bound to take – is to call in the lawyers and head for the courts. This follows a similar ruling by a UK employment tribunal in October which found that the two Uber drivers bringing the claim were employed as workers by Uber, rather than being freelance contractors.
A commercial court in Zurich has rejected a lawsuit against FIFA that accused the body of failing to project migrant workers in Qatar. The legal action was filed against FIFA last month by Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) on behalf of a Bangladeshi construction worker employed on a 2022 World Cup project. The lawsuit called on FIFA to force Qatar to adopt “minimum labour standards” for migrant workers.
Germany's banking major Deutsche Bank agreed Wedsneday with the U.S. Justice Department to pay $95 million to settle a federal tax liability case. The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in 2014 that had sought to recoup more than $190M in taxes, penalties and interest. The major allegation was that in 2000, the bank used a shell company BMY with little assets and no operating business, to evade taxable income and to gain from sale of stock. The shell company ended up in the tax liability of around $52 million. Through the settlement, the bank has admitted and accepted responsibility of the allegations.
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